Clears way for private school to expand
by Marianne Gasaway
The Clear Lake City Council unanimously approved a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night to re-zone the former Sunset School building.
The change from public zoning to RS-8 (medium density single family residential) will allow the owner, Dolly James LLC, of Cedar Falls, to lease the building to Clear Lake Classical. The local private school currently offers grades pre-kindergarten through 10 based at the Evangelical Free Church on Highway 18.
Dr. Cory Gerdts, headmaster of Clear Lake Classical, said the intention is to add a grade each of the next two years until the school has its first high school graduates.
“We are pretty well maxed out at the church campus. We are glad to have the opportunity to lease the building for the years ahead, allowing us to continue to grow,” Gerdts previously told the Mirror-Reporter.
In June 2018, the Clear Lake School Board approved the sale of Sunset Elementary School, 408 Mars Hill Dr., to Cedar Falls/Waterloo developers Jim Sulentic and Brent Dahlstrom. The developer agreed to not close on the property until the school district had completed an addition at Clear Creek Elementary to accommodate preschoolers who had been attending classes at Sunset. That move was made in 2019.
The building has been sitting empty for two years.
Council members heard only encouragement from neighbors of the area during a public hearing held at City Hall. Prior to their vote, Councilmen Bennett Smith and Mike Callahan also voiced their approval.
Although the zoning change was approved, Clear Lake Classical must apply for a conditional use permit with the city’s Board of Adjustment to operate on the property.